This was clearly, and not unintentionally, a draft for the future for the Browns.
The only player of the eight selected that can be projected as a sure starter is Braylon Edwards, the wide receiver taken with the third pick in the first round. The other choices should not be considered projects, with the exception of Jon Dunn, an offensive tackle from Virginia Tech taken in the seventh round, but they are for the most part players not expected to contribute much in 2005 other than on special teams, starting with safety Brodney Pool, the second-round pick from Oklahoma, right through Dunn with the 217th over all pick.
"I think things will play out over time," general manager Phil Savage said. "We're in a situation where we have time to some things and see how they develop. I think we did enough in free agency.
"This team has enough serviceable, functional players that maybe will allow us to develop players in the right way than just forcing them into the lineup."
The Browns signed seven players in free agency and acquired two others by trade. The moves allowed Savage to stick to his draft board and not reach for players to fill gaping holes on the offensive line. Those holes were filled by free agent guards Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman.
"This is not a situation where we were necessarily looking for guys to start right away," Savage said. "Some have a better chance than others, but relative to these specific players, it's more important about where we are in two years."
The intriguing pick of the draft was Charlie Frye, the Akron quarterback taken in the third round. Trent Dilfer, acquired in a trade with the Seahawks, is firmly the starter. The Browns are putting no pressure on Frye and are not even anointing him as the quarterback of the future, although they must find one; Dilfer is 33 and has not played 16 games in seven years.
"Charlie's a candidate for it," Savage said. "There are no guarantees," Savage said. "He'll have a chance to develop and continue getting better. We'll see where he is relative to what's out there next year and the year after and how Trent does."
The second day of the draft was dedicated to defense, where most of the changes have occurred since Romeo Crennel was named head coach Feb. 8. They took cornerback Antonio Perkins from Oklahoma in the fourth round, Defensive end/linebacker David McMillan from Kansas in the fifth, and outside linebacker Nick Speegle from New Mexico plus defensive tackle Andrew Hoffman from Virginia in the sixth until taking Dunn with their final pick.
BEST PICK: Top draft choice Braylon Edwards will be the first true No. 1 receiver to play for the Browns since their return to the NFL in 1999 if he plays like he did at Michigan, where he caught 39 touchdown passes the last three years and had three straight 1,000-yard seasons. He and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., their first-round choice last year, give the Browns a potent passing attack if Trent Dilfer can get them the ball. Edwards is an excellent leaper and seemed to play his best in big games in college. The Browns like his work ethic. He runs a 4.45 40-yard dash.
COULD SURPRISE: The Browns might have nabbed a sleeper in cornerback Antonio Perkins from Oklahoma, their fourth-round draft choice. A knee injury his senior year lowered his draft status and a hamstring pull hampered his pro day workout, but he says he has made a complete recovery and has a chip on his shoulder because he thought he should have been chosen sooner. Perkins is projected as a DB in the nickel or dime defense, but if he plays well enough he could challenge six-year veteran Daylon McCutcheon for a starting job. He should at least be the Browns punt returner, a role currently played by Dennis Northcutt; Perkins returned eight punts for touchdowns with the Sooners.
A closer look at the Browns picks:
1/3 -- Braylon Edwards, WR, 6-3, 211, Michigan
General Manager Phil Savage says Edwards was the highest rated player on the Browns draft board. He should become an immediate starter and complement tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., the sixth overall pick in the draft last year. Edwards scored 39 touchdowns in his last three years at Michigan. The Browns expect him to deliver the same big-play capability as a pro. Among the reasons Savage drafted him over receivers Mike Williams of USC and Troy Williamson of South Carolina is Edwards is accustomed to playing in cold weather.
2/34 -- Brodney Pool, S, 6-2 3/4, 208, Oklahoma
With needs at linebacker and defensive end, the Browns pulled a mild surprise by taking a safety, even though they signed former Vikings safety Brian Russell only two weeks earlier. Savage said Pool was the highest rated player on the Browns board at the time. Pool might not start at safety, but he could see time in nickel situations either over the slot receiver or as a big cornerback. Savage said he wanted somebody that could match up with Ravens tight end Todd Heap and Steelers rookie tight end Heath Miller. Pool left after his junior year. He intercepted seven passes as a sophomore and two last season.
3/67 -- Charlie Frye, QB, 6-4 3/4, 217, Akron
Frye played his college ball 30 miles down the road from Cleveland Browns Stadium. There is no pressure on him to start as a rookie with Trent Dilfer on the roster, but Dilfer is 34 and has not played 16 games since 1998. Questions exist about Frye's arm strength, but Savage said the arm "is strong enough." The Browns believe Frye is a gamer who is at his best in crucial situations. Savage said he might have taken Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell with the second pick in the second round had the Redskins not taken him.
4/104 -- Antonio Perkins, CB, 5-10 1/2, 188, Oklahoma
Perkins suffered a sprained left MCL last season, and when he returned less than 100 percent he tended to give receivers a bigger cushion than he might have when healthy. He is quick. He has run a 4.31 40-yard dash. The Browns are looking at him as a nickel or dime back. They lost two corners in free agency and signed one, so as far as a body-count goes they are now even. Perkins will definitely be tried as a punt returner and kick returner. He returned eight punts for touchdowns or the Sooners.
5/139 -- David McMillan, DE/LB, 6-3, 262, Kansas
The Browns need to beef up their pass rush, but they waited 139 picks to do it. McMillan says he needs to work on his linebacking skills, an indication the Browns will use him as a situational pass rusher at least early in his career as they convert him to outside linebacker. He could be light to play a true end in the 3-4 the Browns plan to use. They want their ends to be heavier to match up with the defensive tackles.
6/176 -- Nick Speegle, OLB, 6-6, 250, New Mexico
Coach Romeo Crennel likes smart players that can grasp his various defenses, and Speegle certainly fits. He had a 3.97 grade average at New Mexico, getting only three Bs his entire college career. He had 38 tackles for loss in college. He might be tried as an inside linebacker, since that is an area of need. He can play on kick and punt coverage teams.
6/203 -- Andrew Hoffman, DT, 6-4 3/4, 296, Virginia
Hoffman is best known for stealing a keg of beer in 2001 and dropping it on his left foot, causing a compound fracture of his left big toe. He says he's able to laugh about it now. He will play nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. He wants to add bulk to take the pounding an NFL nose tackle takes week after week. He is more of a technician than a player that relies on strength and is good at getting into the backfield. He had 11 tackles for loss plus five sacks last season.
7/217 -- Jon Dunn, OT, 6-7 1/4, 328 Virginia Tech
Dunn is a project, but the Browns can afford to
take one on because they are set with starters Ross Verba on the left and Ryan Tucker on the right. According to scouting reports, Dunn has too much mass to
get into a three-point stance and he can be beaten easily on a quick move. He
failed a drug test in 2003, resulting in a one-game suspension. He needs to move
into the weight room; he could not compete in the agility test at the scouting
combine because of a strained pectoral muscle and strained quad muscle.